Saturday, December 13, 2014

Today's media silliness: The LeBron Debate

Look, I know I was part of the problem for 38 years. But sometimes the sporting media is sillier than kittens on acid.

Case in point: Last night LeBron James went for 41 points in a loss to the Pelicans, then had to defend himself because some media twits with far too much time on their hands seriously debated whether or not his game (or at least the skywalking, Dr. Dunk part of it) is starting to erode.

Seriously. They did.

OK, first, some context: LeBron is 29 years old. You don't start talking about the things a guy can no longer do until he's, oh, 34 or 35.

Context, The Sequel: The man is the best player on the planet. By miles and miles. Nothing he has done or not done so far this season gives evidence that is still not the case, perhaps more than ever.

Context, The Sequel To The Sequel: The whole dunking thing has never been a big part of his game, anyway -- at least, not in the way it was for Michael Jordan during his MJ Moonwalker days. So to discuss whether or not LeBron can still jam like he did when he was 19 or 20 is a completely pointless exercise in assessing the state of his game.

But then, a lot of oxygen has been pointlessly expended by the yapping poodles of 24/7 sports media where LeBron James is concerned. It's a function, I've come to believe, of a lot of people's fundamental misunderstanding of LeBron's game. They insist on comparing him to MJ when the more accurate comparison is to Magic Johnson -- and even that comparison doesn't work on a lot of levels.

That's because LeBron's game defies characterization, and has always done so. He's a dynamic scorer whose greatest gift might be distributing the basketball. And so all the yawp over the years about whether or not he was afraid to seize control of games late missed the notion that he  actually was seizing control of games late, but in a way that was not always recognized by those who grew up with the MJ/Kobe model of gimme-the-rock-and-clear-out-a-side.

LeBron's first instinct, it seems to me, is to look for the open man. He's the rare unstoppable scorer who actually wants to get everybody else involved. And he has the skills to do it; although it rarely gets mentioned, he's a supremely gifted passer. Maybe the best in the NBA.

And if he doesn't dunk as often as he used to?

Hey. He's LeBron. He never did.    

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